parkdale united church

429 Parkdale Avenue, OTTAWA, Ontario K1Y 1H3

Parkdale Men’s Group

 

With Reverend Alcris Limongi providing the initial impetus, the Parkdale Men’s Group has successfully launched! Each of our two Saturday morning sessions to date   -   in October and November  -  were attended by about 20 men of the congregation, across a wide range of ages and life experiences. Not surprisingly, delicious and hearty breakfasts featured prominently at both events.

 

These first meetings focused on basic organizational questions.

 

- Why do we want a Men’s Group? What would be our purpose?

- What type of programming would help us to fulfil that purpose?

- How could we best deliver that programming?

- When would be the best times to meet?

- Where would be the best places to meet?

- Who would step forward from among the members of the Men’s Group to provide leadership?

 

Our October brainstormed Why varied widely: from fostering dialogue around difficult issues to mentoring younger men in the church; from creating better connections and fellowship among ourselves to exploring the future of Parkdale and the surrounding community. At the November session, ideas were refined and prioritized around guest speakers, “branded” Men’s Group projects, community volunteering, sport-based activities, addressing “speed of life”  issues, advanced care and end-of-life planning, youth-oriented initiatives, and structured discussions.

 

What type of programming varied widely as well. The possibilities included discussion groups from a faith perspective, guest speakers, outdoor activities, member presentations, retreats, on-line exchanges, and opportunities for service. But participants were unanimous that Men’s Group programming must be varied, meaningful, and fun.

 

How to deliver that programming could include special groups around specific topics or types of activity, peer-group learning, and many other means. It will be important to keep things informal.

 

When is always a challenge, especially for men with young families and full-time employment. Regular monthly events will help maintain continuity and momentum. While Saturday mornings are likely best, the Men’s Group will experiment with different days and times during the week, and monitor how these affect participation.

 

Where needs to enable us to make connections. While the church building is fine for regular events, the Men’s Group will also go off-site on occasion, depending on the programming.

 

Finding Who will step up and provide leadership is often the biggest challenge. But an initial organizing team of Andrew Barbour, Mark Bradley, John Harewood, and Murray Wagner quickly volunteered in October. They did a wonderful job at the November breakfast meeting  -  from preparing and serving the meal, to organizing the discussion, and cleaning up. Other members of the Men’s Group will ensure access to the building and set-up (Wally Prater), as well as clean-up and tear down of the meeting room. Over time, it will be important to continually spread leadership and work tasks among as many members of the Men’s Group as possible.

 

Reverend Bailey provided inspiring devotionals at both sessions. In November, Anthony recounted a recent engagement with the students of Ashbury College. He had challenged the two assemblies to think about the foundation beneath their school’s Values   -   the “operating system” underlying the “apps”. For Anthony, that operating system can only be the five types of Love identified in the Bible   -   Love of God, Love of Neighbour, Love of Self, Love of Enemies, and Love of the Earth. The Men’s Group will use these five themes of Love as the framework or overlay to its programming.

 

The next session of the Men’s Group will be held on Saturday, January 20 at 8:30 a.m. at the church. It will feature a discussion, to be organized by Norm Tape, of “What makes a vital and growing congregation?” Please consult the weekly bulletin or the Parkdale web site for details. And do plan to join us!

 

For more information, please contact John Butcher.